With the region’s fourth-quarter production forecast to rise 8.3% from year-ago, pending fallout from Superstorm Sandy, capacity utilization of 93.1% in the final three months of 2012 will be a period high.
A WardsAuto analysis of North American light-vehicle capacity utilization shows the best results are coming from auto makers employing 3-crew or 3-shift operations at their assembly plants.
This is a major reason why utilization rates currently are at extreme highs.
The third quarter’s North American LV utilization rate of 93.5% was the best for the period since WardsAuto began tracking the data in 2005. It followed the second quarter’s 100.1%, which marked the second-best result on record for the period and the first time the rate reached the 100% level in the past seven years.
With fourth-quarter North American production forecast to rise 8.3% from year-ago, pending fallout from Superstorm Sandy, capacity utilization of 93.1% in the final three months of 2012 also will be a period high.
Capacity utilization for all of 2012 is forecast at 96.5%, rising to 96.7% in 2013, including rates of more than 100% in the first and second quarters.
, which just added third shifts to its Canton, MS, and Smyrna, TN, facilities, will end 2012 at 112.5% capacity utilization, the highest rate among the region’s six biggest volume manufacturers. , which has six plants running three crews/shifts, is forecast to finish the year at 109.9%.
The capacity utilization rate for rest of the top six is(94.4%), (92.0%), Toyota (88.7%) and (86.2%). Of the four, two have plants on 3-crew/shift systems and are planning to add more.
in July added a third crew at its Belvidere, IL, location, and will do the same in the fourth quarter at its Detroit-Jefferson North plant. It also is considering adding a third shift next year at its Dodge City Ram pickup facility in Warren, MI.
GM has seven plants running three crews/shifts and will add Arlington, TX, to the list in first-quarter 2013. WardsAuto also expects the auto maker to add a third shift by the third quarter at its Oshawa 1 plant in Ontario, Canada. The facility builds the Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac XTS and will launch production of the redesigned ’14 Chevrolet Impala early next year.
, which is forecast to reach 145.1% capacity utilization in 2012, will add a third crew to its Chattanooga, TN, plant in December. It already assembles cars on three shifts in Puebla, Mexico.
Including medium- and heavy-duty trucks, the North American third-quarter capacity utilization rate was 92.7%, compared with 78.7% in like-2011. Through September, the rate was 97.0%, compared with 81.5% year-ago.